On (Not) Running

Since the rather exuberant post following my 17 mile run into work on the 25th, I haven’t gone running once.  This five day dry-spell came about due to a number of factors: a crowded weekend schedule, 19 inches of snow dumped by (yet another) January blizzard, but primarily due to a sudden flare-up of Achilles tendinitis.  The latter I blame on two, four-mile sessions of speed’work done in my Vibrams.  Up until last week, I’d been very cautious about easing into barefoot running, but it felt so good and I wanted to mix in some fast tempo-runs for my up-coming half-marathon in March.  The result was a minor ache in my heel as I started my 17 mile run, something I wrote off as a bruise from my shoe’s collar.  As the ache disappeared before my run was over, I didn’t think much of it, until I found myself limping about the school later that day.

I may have been stupid enough to push my barefoot running too far, but I’m actually one of those rare runners who is is very conscious about not overworking an injury: limping in tears over the last two miles of my first half-marathon after spending weeks stoically ignoring a growing knee injury taught me that lesson hard and fast.  So it was ice, rest, and no running for a few days.  Then the blizzard.  Then a busy weekend.

Not running drives me CRAZY.  As any serious runner will tell you, its addictive.  I don’t know if its the adrenaline, the mental recharge it gives you, or some other undefined element, but running gets in your head and in your blood and you crave it.  When Wednesday night rolled around and I hadn’t gone running, I felt lazy.  I had just run 17 miles the day before, but I had to work to shake off the sense that I was a good-for-nothing couch potato who just didn’t have the drive and dedication to be “a real runner.”

It doesn’t help that in my lust to run an ultra, I’ve been reading a lot of ultrarunner blogs, and they toss out posts about how they did an “easy 14” in the morning, then did 8 miles of speed-work on the way home from work.  For example, Anton Krupicka ran 740 miles in January; the most I’ve ever done in 30 days is 140.  Of course, I’m not Krupicka: I’ve never placed at Western States, run Hard Rock, or any of the countless other things he’s done.  One of the great lessons that running teaches you is to judge yourself against yourself; there is always someone slower and weaker than you, and always (always!) someone (much) faster and (much) stronger than you.  I’ve got a whole essay in my head on this topic, but this week has been a chance to remind myself of that.  I want to run more, I want to run further, but I have to run against myself and what I can do.  I can push what I think is possible, but it must be against the ruler of myself, not Scott Jurek or Dean Karnazes (nor do want to be — I have no desire to run for 48 hours on a treadmill).  Hell, I’m not even Matt Frazier over at No Meat Athlete, whose running his first 100 mile this year.    I’m me: a rank-amateur by pro-running standards, a crazy fanatic super-runner according to my co-workers.

And I am REALLY looking forward to running six miles tonight!

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About Chris Van Dyke

I am a 33 year-old high school English teacher and long-distance runner. I live in Brooklyn with my partner, our 3 year-old son and 1 year-old daughter and a growing collection of muppets and trains. Besides running and teaching I like to draw, read, write, cook, and play the harmonica. While I didn't get to run my first ultra-marathon on my birthday, I've got a few more I've set my sights on. You can follow my (seldom updated) twitter feed @aboutrunning. I also blog as part of the Run Smiley Collective.
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